Old Memories

Today I was going through old photos. Once in a while when I look at a photo I can’t remember exactly where or when it was taken, but sometimes just seeing an imagine brings me right back to when I took it. That was the case today. The picture is one of my sister Janet from when she was five years old. We lived in Wilton, Connecticut where spring never came. Since we did not really live in a neighborhood we often had to make our own fun since our friends were a car ride away.

1974

I came home from school and Janet was playing by herself out in the snow covered driveway. She had on her Osh Kosh striped jean jacket, and a red bandana and was holding a plastic water pistol. I caught the photo of her acting out the death scene in a cops and robbers game she was playing alone. I will never forget how much fun she was having playing both the good guy and bad guy role at the same time. I am not sure who got shot, but the death scene was very dramatic.

I laughed so big as she went down. I thought she could not possibly have more fun if she had an actual friend playing this game with her. Certainly without the photo I would have forgotten this small moment forty seven years ago.

As I went through more photos I forwarded many of Carter and my father together through the years. I am so happy that I have always been an avid photographer because capturing so many memories in a picture helps keep those memories alive. Thank goodness everyone has a camera in our pockets now. Do yourself a favor and take some photos everyday.


Surprise Harvest

I haven’t been spending much time in my garden due to being busy with other things. I went out today to work, thinking I would pull a lot of spent plants out. To my surprise I found I still had more things to harvest than I anticipated. I had only brought a small basket with me and soon it was overflowing with Japanese eggplant, tomatoes and six different kinds of peppers. I returned to the garage and got my biggest basket and filled it, adding globe eggplants.

I had cut down my giant okra stalks three weeks ago, but not pulled them out of the garden. Today I discovered new shoots with tiny pods growing out the side of them. My marigolds are overflowing with blossoms, at least four times as many as I have had at any one time this summer. Even my catnip is exploding and I don’t even have a cat. I grow it as a companion to the vegetables because it is a natural aphid repellent. If you have a cat and would like some please come by and I will be happy to cut you a few handfuls.

After harvesting I decided I was not going to pull out the plants I thought I might as they are still producing. I might as well continue to enjoy their bounty until frost is predicted. I hope the green tomatoes on the vines have a chance to ripen before the frost. I am thankful I was too distracted to pull plants out two weeks ago because I would have missed this surprise harvest.


All My Cooking is Not Successful

A month or so ago we invited some young friends for dinner for tonight. As the time got closer I learned that the husband does not eat fish. Russ does not eat meat so that left me with Chicken or Veggies. Since Russ got a new pasta maker for his birthday I decided I would try and make butternut squash ravioli. I had successfully made spaghetti with the new machine and thought how much trouble could lasagna noodles be?

I baked the butternut squash and mixed the flesh with eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper for the filling. Then I attempted to make the pasta. It was not easy. As the wide flat noodles extruded they curled in on themselves. I cut them short and tried to make pockets of ravioli. They looked terrible and I was totally unsure that they would not burst open when cooked.

Russ usually has great confidence in my cooking, but even he thought we needed a plan B. So he went to the local Italian Pasta makers and bought some pumpkin ravioli. I was left with a big bowl of the butternut squash filling. Russ thought I could make butternut squash bread, but with all the black pepper in it I thought I should do something savory.

I couldn’t turn it into soup since it had raw eggs in it. So I decided to make a savory butternut cheese cake. It was a good way to turn a fail into something edible.

From the photos they both look like fails.

Crust

1 cup panko bread crumb

1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese

4 T. Butter melted

Cheese cake

1 large butternut squash

5 eggs

1 c. Ricotta cheese

16 Oz. Cream cheese

2 t. Nutmeg

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Halve the butternut squash and remove seeds and strings. Place face down on a butter foil covered cookie sheet. Bake for 1 hour until a fork goes in easily.

Set aside to cool.

Butter a large spring form pan.

Mix panko, Parmesan and melted putter together and press into the bottom of the pan. Bake for ten minutes in 350° oven.

In a mixer beat cream cheese with eggs. Scrape out the flesh from cooled squash and add to cream cheese and beat. Add ricotta, and spices, lots of pepper and 1 T salt. Pour mixture into spring form pan on top of crust.

Wrap the bottom. Of the spring form pan in foil so water can’t get in to it.

Place pan in a oblong backing pan and fill the pan with boiling water until it is half way up the sides of the spring form pan. Bake in 350° oven for one hour. Can be served hot or room temp.


Bridge is a Life’s Work

One of the things I gave up all through the pandemic was bridge. Not being able to play in person meant I had to play online. I did not like playing online with strangers who “chatted” not such nice comments. So I just stopped playing all together. My best bridge mentor/friend Deanna asked me if I would come back and play and she would play with me twice a month. So tonight was our first game, which was still online, but with people from our bridge club.

I was very nervous, having forgotten so many of the “new” conventions Deanna had been working with me on learning two years ago. We had a refresher call before the game and then got online. The first few games were a little rocky and then I got back in the swing. We made top board twice and finished above average, gaining me some master points.

I still don’t love playing on the computer, but it was not as scary since I was playing with Deanna. I look forward to doing it again in person, but this means I have to study. Bridge is a life’s work.


A Shower and a Shave?

It’s been a while since I commented on the news, but today I just can’t help myself. Across my scroll came news January 6th Congressional committee plans to vote next week to hold Steve Bannon in Contempt of Congress for not cooperating with their subpoena.

Allegedly, Bannon, who was not an employee of the executive branch since 2017, is claiming executive privilege, a laughable claim.

My thought is perhaps the committee is pleased with Bannon’s refusal. If they do throw him in jail until he agrees to testify in front of the committee perhaps Bannon will be forced to shower, wash his hair and maybe shave while he is in lock up. The January 6th committee might prefer a clean Bannon to the one we normally see on the news.

If Bannon does change his mind and testifies without being sent to jail it is a good thing for the members of Congress that they wear masks. Just sayin’.


Get Your Christmas Shopping Done

In case you haven’t noticed, the supply chain is very broken. It is hard to find products on the shelves. I wanted to buy some white pillow cases this morning and there were absolutely none to be found at my local Target today. If I wanted brown or beige all would be good, but I am not a brown bedroom girl.

So it’s time to get your Christmas shopping done. You are in luck if you have anyone on your list who cooks, has a kitchen or a workshop because my sister’s Any sharp Product will be featured on Good Morning America’s Deals and Steals tomorrow. The segment will air in the eight o’clock hour along with a bunch of other good kitchen wares.

Order early and ensure you have some stocking stuffers. My sister is really appreciative of all your orders.


A Little Bit Back To Normal

Life is getting a little bit back to normal, yet I am still sad. This morning Carter flew back to Boston with Russ taking her to the airport at 4:40 in the morning. It was sad not to have her around today, but she has lots to do to graduate this semester so throwing in all these funerals and celebrations of life and it means she is flying back and forth a lot.

Russ flew off to Annapolis this afternoon for a work meeting for the next few days. I went to work in the memorial garden for garden club this morning. It was real normalcy for me. Only six people showed up so I got a lot of digging in and doing that kind of work is good for the soul.

I went back to teach a night Mah Jongg class in Raliegh today. Had a group of 12 new students who caught on fairly quickly. Teaching at night is not my best teaching, but getting back into a routine is good for me. In between those people activities I did a lot of planning work on my Dad’s services and parties. He loved to throw a party and I wish he had planned all these things, but that would have meant he knew he was not invincible.

One thing hit me today as I was driving by a house in my neighborhood that my father had commented on a few months ago. He asked me if this particular house was abandoned. I laughed and said, no that it actually had been recently renovated. His comment back was, “Those people were robbed.” I really wish my Dad was with me today because as I drove by the same house I noticed some tiny trees, really barley sticks, that had been haphazardly planted a while ago in the front yard and they still had the big white paper tags attached with elastic to one of the two tiny branches of each trees. My father would have gotten a big laugh at these people for not bothering to remove the tags as well as not planning their landscaping any better. I know my response would have been to him, “What do you expect from an abandoned house?” He would have just said, “dopes.”

I do miss sharing the absurd with my Dad. We had the same sense of humor. He particularly did not have any patience for dopes. When Carter and I were up at my mom’s on Friday we came across brand new t-shirt in my Dad’s closet. It said on it. “I will try and be nicer if you try and be smarter.” I really wish I could ask him if he bought it or it was given to him because there is no truer statement about him.

Even my normal days still remind me of my Dad.


The Best Daughter

Carter came home for a long weekend to spend time with my Mom and us. It has been so great to have her home. She had today off from school because it is indigenous people’s day in Boston. Unfortunately I did not have the day off. It was my last day of morning and afternoon Mah Jongg classes in Raleigh so I left Carter home all day.

After my long day of work I got home and found that Carter had polished the silver service for me, cleaned out the dishwasher, fed Shay, and planned dinner. I would have been thrilled with cleaning out the dishwasher. Polishing the silver was way over the top and so appreciated. Sadly she leaves so early in the morning and I am going to miss her.

The before and after photo Carter sent me as a surprise

I can’t spend another moment on my blog today because I have to enjoy the last fleeting moments with Carter.


Pomodoro Sauce for Ed

Two big things I got from my father are my love of gardening and cooking. My mother has never cared about cooking or eating so as soon as I could reach the stove my father had me cooking. I actually was cooking eggs for myself before my parents even knew, because they would be asleep late on weekends and I had things to do and places to go. Thankfully I never burned the house down.

My Dad loved to cook, but was a recipe follower, until he mastered something. Quite the opposite from me as a cook. Still I am sure I never would have become the cook I am without his influence, especially in taking me all over the world to taste different foods in their home cultures.

As my garden is still producing tomatoes today I picked a basket full and made a Pomodoro sauce my Dad would appreciate as one we used to eat in Italy on family trips to his favorite Amalfi coast.

3 medium Onions- peeled and quartered

12-14 ripe Roma and Campari tomatoes quartered

6 cloves of garlic peeled

3 T. Olive oil

1 T. Balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 t. Basil, dry

1 t. Marjoram

Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 375°

Place everything on a big sheet pan mixed together.

Cook at least 45 minutes until the onions are starting to brown.

Let cool slightly and pour everything on pan into a blender and blend just until not chunky.

Freezes well.


Healing Thoughtfulness

Thanks to the dear friends who have done things for us over the last week. Jan brought us food and flowers the night we came home and it was so nice of her to go to all that trouble. We have been fine and there is almost never a need for anyone to bring us food. In fact I know most people are intimidated to do so, which is just crazy. Except for the superior chef Carol who brought a cake, even if the bundt pan is unforgiving, it is beautiful. Anna also brought chocolate saying it is a Chinese traditions to have something sweet so you have sweet memories.

The flowers that have been brought have been spectacular. Stacey’s are an artistic wonder. Kim’s Hydrangeas will keep me smiling for weeks as will Lynn’s orchid. Carol’s roses are beautiful, but nothing compared to her cake.

The cards and notes of condolence have been so thoughtful and sweet as well as all the other messages of love. So many dear people have reached out with offers and really we don’t need a thing, other than to know you care, which I do. Thank you dear friends, I appreciate you all so much.


Carter Makes Everything Better

Carter really wanted to come home to be with us and see her grandmother. I am so glad she did. We came up to Mom’s this morning to continue helping do all the random things that need to be done. The first thing we did was drive my Mom to Martinsville, 35 minutes away, to return my father’s band new, very expensive hearing aids. Nothing makes my mother happier than returning things, but it is all made better by having Carter here to help.

After we drove back to Danville and went out to lunch. What a novel and normal thing do. It was so nice just to be together and not be in the house. My Mom even paid so you know she had to be in a very good mood. After I went home to have a call and Mom and Carter went to the funeral home to pick my Dad’s ashes up and pick out a box for them.

My Mom put the box in his room right under one of his favorite paintings she did of the Tour de France. Her neighbor Barbara texted Mom to see if she was OK and my Mom texted back, “I’m fine, sitting on the porch, Dana and Carter and are outside and Ed is up in his room.” Barbara texted back, “What?” Mom replied, “His ashes are up there.”

The grass is finally growing at the house, which I am certain makes my father most happy so things are looking up.

After dinner my Mom went to bed and Carter and I turned on the TV. The choice of stations here is hysterical. I saw “The Flip Wilson Show” on the guide and told Carter is was one of my favorite shows in the 70’s. She and I started watching it and about five minutes in we realized it was an informercial for an 18 DVD set of Flip Wilson’s greatest hits from Time Life. Carter loved the show, but wondered who had DVD equipment still. For me it was like going back to my childhood. Seemed appropriate. It was a great day.


Nothing Is Normal

Trying to get a day or two of normalcy I came home to rest before going back to my Mom’s. I did exciting things today like vacuum so I could ignore things I didn’t want to think about. Unfortunately vacuuming is not enthralling enough to take your mind off anything.

I had my first regular world Zoom meeting in over a week and then it was easy enough to keep my attention on a task at hand. So to continue that theme Russ and I went to Russell’s Pharmacy in East Durham, the place we got our vaccines from and got our flu and shingles shots. We really like this tiny family owned Pharmacy and Darius Russell the pharmacist so it felt good to go back there and support him. We were in good company as Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state health director, went to him yesterday to get her flu shot.

We got home and I prepped for dinner so I would be ready for the highlight of the day, when Carter came home. She was so sad at the loss of her grandfather and did not want to be alone all the way until the end of the month when we are having the memorial service. Russ and I went to the airport to pick her up and it was just the best feeling to get to hug her.

Tomorrow she and I will go back to my Mom’s for a couple of days. I think this is going to be a pattern for a while. Nothing will be normal.


Thanks Be To Friends

One of the best things to come out of losing my father has been the wonderful conversations I have been able to have with old friends. I am so lucky that I had the opportunity to work with my Dad’s company for about seven years in my thirties. While I did I worked with many wonderful people who my father had gathered up in the journey of his work life.

If you worked with my Dad you had to be a very special and strong person because he demanded brilliance and hard work. Not everyone could be brilliant all the time and so you worked even harder. That hard work created a sense of camaraderie among those of us in the trenches.

I stopped working when Carter was born because I couldn’t figure out how to do international travel with a baby and have a husband who was doing the same thing. I knew I could not just throw Cheerios on the floor and fly away. So I stayed home. Many of those work friends kept at it so we didn’t see each other much, but they were all part of my father’s big tribe and that is how we kept in touch.

I am so thankful for the chance I had to get to know and love these friends. They have gathered around at the passing of my Dad. I especially appreciate Ann and Mary Jo who are helping me with planning the celebration of my Dad’s life. All this event planning is not hard for me, with my years of catering experience, but the logistics of planning events where I am not physically present is made easier because of friends helping.

The conversations I have had with people who knew my father so well means we can talk frankly. Thanks to Julia for her realistic point of view. It makes me miss our times working together. I cherish the people my father gathered. Their loyalty and devotion to his imperfections is so appreciated by me.


My Father’s Obituary

Edward Willis Carter lived 83 full years and left this world on September 30, 2021.  He was born in Winston-Salem, NC to his parents Edward Wilson Carter of Caswell County and Margaret Michie Carter of Charlottesville, Va, where he lived his childhood until he left to attend Virginia Episcopal School for High School. From there he went on to the University of North Carolina where he saw Jane Henderson Wright across the quad and declared he was going to marry her.

He and Janie had three daughters, Dana Carter Lange, (Russ), Margaret Carter (Peter Tokar) and Janet Carter (Sophie Mitrisin) and one granddaughter, Carter Lange. All of whom to which he was eternally devoted.  He took great interest in ensuring his children learned all of life’s important lessons right up until the end, like never run one of your cars into another one of your cars.

Hard working, generous and funny were the three adjectives that described him through most of his life.  He was a successful executive at Avon, ending his career there running the European division.  From there he went on to Warner-Amex and then to MCI at the time when telephone was first becoming a competitive business in the US. Leaving MCI as the head of Sales and Marketing he went on to US Sprint. Realizing that he had a superior knowledge of the ever-changing telephone business he started his own telephone sales and marketing consulting firm, Carter Marketing Group (CMG).

In the 1980’s and 1990’s monopoly telephone companies around the world were facing competition for the first time and Ed was there to help either the existing telephone company or the new startup.  Taking his CMG team successfully into Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, UK, and many other countries to accelerate competition where little had existed before. He retired from CMG in 1998 and many of his employees went on to create spin off companies. Throughout his entire career, he was devoted to helping others succeed in business, just as he had.

After living in Wilton, CT, London England, Washington, DC and South Litchfield Beach, SC he and Janie retired to his long standing family farm, Hom-a-Gen, in Caswell County, NC. There they lived next to his only brother Wilson R. Carter who predeceased him.  Ed spent his time developing the land and reshaping the landscape to be the most beautiful property he could imagine. He loved nothing more than to drive his tractor over his rolling hills and meandering streams.

There will be private service for the family and a celebration of his life later in Washington, DC. Townes Funeral Home in Danville is serving the family. Online condolences may be made at http://www.townesfuneralhome.com.


The Grass is Important

I don’t know how people plan and hold funerals in days of losing their loved one. My Dad has been gone four days and we are just getting around to writing his obituary. Today my Mom and I went to plan the service with my mother’s sweet minister, John. Covid rules really make things tough. We are going to have a small private family service here and then a celebration of my Dad’s life in Washington at a later date. We haven’t even gotten around to thinking about the Washington event as we are so tied up with this one.

Today, when Mom and I got back to her house my Dad’s pool guy was here closing the pool. We told him of Dad’s passing and he was shocked since my Dad had just called him Tuesday to ask him to do the work. My cousin, who is my parent’s stock broker said my Dad had called him two days before he died and he was fine. You just don’t know when your time is up.

My father loved a beautiful green lawn. As a child he used to make all his girls cut the grass. We had a big piece of property and every year he reclaimed more and more forest and grew more and more grass. His farm could have been a Scott’s advertisement. When my parents moved into their new house it had no grass. My father kept waiting for someone to come and do his landscaping and they never came.

Finally last week my mother was fed up with looking at the red clay and she told my father to get someone else, so he did. The day my father died the landscapers must have had five or six guys out putting down seed and straw to hold the seed down. I am so sad that my father never got to see his new house with a green lawn. I am hoping that is will grow quickly so there will be a lawn of some kind before his memorial service. I can’t imagine his embarrassment of not having grass on the day of his service. Thank goodness we did not have to have it in three days.


Please, Leave Instructions

I’m back with my Mom in the land of no Internet and an over abundance of condolence food. There are just three of us here and people bring food for forty. Since my parents just built this house I don’t know where anything is and neither does my mother. Unfortunately my father did not communicate the things like where all the keys and remote controls are.

I know that in every couple there is one person who does some things and another who does the rest. The problem when you lose one unexpectedly no one knows how to do all the things they used to do. Please, someone write down all the information for all the things you do, like change the filters in the furnace or who you call to jump the dead battery for the Kabota.

When I get finished with my mother I am going home and start a log so Russ and I can keep track of these things. I know the name and phone number of our plumbers, but I don’t know if Russ does. He knows the tire pressure for the Morris minor, but I don’t. Neither of us know exactly what medication the other takes. I certainly don’t want Carter to have to try an figure things out by herself.

My father made sure I had his DNR and medical power of attorney, sending me a new one every year. My mother even found a note in his wallet about his not being resuscitated if he was found lying on the ground. With that kind of fore thought I wish he had left more instructions. I am unable to down load any user manuals since the internet here is like 4 mbps. The only thing we can do is eat some food someone brought us and pray we figure everything out.


Russ’ Poorly Celebrated Birthday

In the life goes on department, today is my husband Russ’ birthday. We came home from my Mom’s to get a small break and rejuvenate and celebrate his day. Not that it is much of a celebration for him. The time I had planned to prepare for his birthday was lost, but Russ never complains. He has stepped up to help me and my Mom with things related to my Dad’s passing. This has been a role Russ knows well. Russ has been a stalwart when it comes to dealing with my Dad. So death is little different than life.

So there was little fan fare today. We went to the new downtown library and voted as it was the last day of early voting. Then we toured the new library, which was really beautiful. We had a salad outside for lunch then Russ did some work for a Committee he is on. Someone else was supposed to do the work, but they failed, as they consistently do, so Russ did it. So like him, even on his birthday cleaning up other people’s messes.

Tonight he gets his favorite pizza dinner. Little celebration for the husband of the century. Tomorrow it is back to my Mom’s and dealing with all that. At least my Dad did not die on his birthday. My Dad owed him that.


Three Baby Aspirin, Four Kinds of Chicken Salad and a Random Child

There is so much that is surreal in those few hours right after you lose a loved one and you can’t share with them the things that you normally would have, because they are gone. Yesterday soon after discovering that my father had passed away my mother’s house was filled with paramedics, and paramedic supervisors and a Sheriff and other official people who we don’t know and don’t really want to have to talk with. I found myself having to hear about how the young paramedic might give my very newly deceased father a run for his money as far as being hard headed. Really, when did this become about you?

Then, when the Sheriff introduced himself to my mother and she asked him if he was from “around here,” he said, “No.” He waited a good two beats and responded “I’m from Alamance.” For those of you not from Caswell, you would say that Alamance is “around here” since it is just the next county over. I was thinking how inane my father would have found these conversations and he wasn’t there for me to laugh with about them.

As the morning dragged on and all the officials hung around in the driveway waiting for some sign off that the funeral home could come and take my Dad away I realized that I had not had any water, caffeine or food all day and a massive headache was coming on. I asked my mother for some pain killer and made myself a cereal at noon. She brought me three tiny yellow pills the size of the head of a pin and placed them on my napkin. “What the hell are these,” I asked in the nicest possible way. “Baby aspirin,” my mother replied. Now I am my mother’s baby, but I told her I think I need something stronger. She brought me two more. Another thing my Dad would have gotten a big roar out of.

As the day went on some really kind friends of my mother’s were already bringing food. Word travels fast when there are three paramedic vehicles, a sheriffs car and a silver funeral home hearse in your driveway for two hours. There were two kinds of chicken salad and two kinds of pimento cheese

before four o’clock not eleven hours after he had passed. My dad liked both pimento cheese and chicken salad and I kept thinking he could use a little King’s Hawaiian roll with some chicken salad.

This morning, when I came downstairs early in the morning, after reading all the wonderful and kind comments on my blog and on Facebook from so many friends from near and far, I met my mother’s new cleaning lady. My mother thought was a good idea to have her show up and clean while people are coming and dropping off more chicken salad, deviled eggs wanting to visit with my mother. The nice woman introduced me to her ten year old daughter and apologized for bringing her. She had stayed home from school today and had no one else to watch her. My mother wasn’t bothered by this as she really wanted someone else to clean my Dad’s room. So the cleaning lady told the child to sit down in the family room, which is open to kitchen while she went upstairs to work.

So as I was cleaning the kitchen and logging the food into the register for future thank you notes and answering the door and the phone, the child, who happens to have autism, was peppering me with random questions. “What’s your dog’s name? Who are you? Why are people bringing you food?” She was a sweet child, but on the bingo card of things you will deal with while grieving the loss of your father, having to entertain a random child was not on it. This was definitely something my father would have had a big scream about.

My Dad and I shared the same sense of the absurd. I already miss hearing him laugh that huge laugh. I am not sure who I will be able to call and tell him when crazy things happen and I feel like I am the only one who thinks they are crazy. So Dad, if you are watching, give me a sign when you think things are as weird as I do.


A Long Sad Day

When I was a kid, perhaps, nine or ten years old my Dad started many words of wisdom with the line, “I have to tell you this before I die.” It was very discomforting as a child because I often missed the wisdom and just worried that he might die soon. Today I can no longer get to hear his advice because he died in his bed at home.

My Dad was bigger than life in everything he did. People either loved him or hated him, no one was ever indifferent to him. And if he loved you, you knew it and you were the greatest, smartest or funniest. But if he hated you, you were the nothing more than a Cromag, or his favorite insult, “you were all you would ever be.”

He defied all the odds by living to 83 in spite of the hard and fast life he lived. He outlived all his contemporaries and that made life lonely. He suffered many ailments over the last few years, but beat every odd and kept living in a body that he had worn out years before.

Ever the optimist he had planned to have an operation on his elbow in five days so he could qualify for a knee replacement. He bought a new car two weeks ago, when he also had a truck and shouldn’t have been driving either of them.

Yesterday my Mom called me and said he was doing poorly. I drove up to their new house he just finished building and found him disoriented and in pain, but had no idea that his end was so close. I stayed in the room across from his last night listening to his pain and then he unexpectedly got out of bed and fell on the floor. It was hell. The paramedics came and checked him out and put him back in bed, saying he was safer here than at the Covid filled hospital. Apparently he wasn’t safe anywhere.

My Mom and I are still in shock, fueled by our lack of sleep. We aren’t having a service right away, but are waiting until all the people who were important to him can be together. It’s been a long sad day, one I am happy I did not have to suffer when I was ten, or twenty or even forty. I was so lucky to live sixty years with Ed Carter always giving me advice.


People Aren’t Mind Readers

I have to admit that I watch the Bachelor in all it’s forms. I am addicted to the editing. I love to see who the editors are going to make the villains and the angels. I love to see them build someone up, just to have them let us down. Sadly these are real people who suffer the consequences of the Machiavellian minds of the producers.

There is one constant in these television shows that I find to be as true on TV as it is in real life; Most people don’t tell people exactly what they want or how they feel, but expect others to read their mind. Then they are disappointed with the outcomes.

One thing I have learned in my sixty years is there are no mind readers. If you want something you better make it clear. Conversely, it is the same for things you don’t want. Holding back the truth or expecting people to pick up on subtle cues rarely gives you the result you are hoping for.

No one is thinking about you as the center of their universe. They are thinking about themselves. So despite how close you might believe you are to someone, don’t leave things to chance. Tell them what you need, or want and wait and see how they respond. You may not like what they are willing to do for you, but at least you’re not waiting around or being constantly disappointed by others.

Along the same route, if you feel slighted by someone, don’t take it so personally. Usually the slight is not about you, but is about whatever that person is dealing with in their own lives. Remember, you are not the most important thing to them. No matter how close you are, they still have other things on their minds and usually they did not mean to hurt your feelings or ignore you. If you aren’t that close, take a chill pill.


Jeopardy Matt

I have been loving watching Matt Amodio, the current 30 day winner on Jeopardy. Tonight he had a really impressive win of $70,000 bringing his total winnings to over $1,074,000. That’s a lot of money for 30 show’s work.

Filming Jeopardy is grueling as they tape five shows in one day. Apparently they are taping 15 shows in three days so if Matt continues to win like he has been it will not only be amazing for his breadth of knowledge, but his stamina as well.

He certainly appears to reserve as much energy as possible and answers all questions with “What is…” regardless if the answer is a person, place or thing. At first it sounded odd to hear, “What is Lincoln,” rather than “Who is Abraham Lincoln” as the answer to “was the president during the civil war. It may be awkward, but it is perfect legal in Jeopardy rules. Matt’s judicious use of words is a strategy that works for him.

Having a long running winner makes the show so much more exciting for me. Every night I have to watch to see if he can hold on to the title. The hard part is watching the other contestants whither as Matt is able to ring in before almost everyone all the time and get the answer right at least 96% of the time. Keep up the good work Matt. Your calm demeanor and humility makes you someone worth rooting for.


It’s “What to Wear?” Season

If you are lucky enough to live in the triangle of North Carolina you would have to admit that we have been enjoying some absolutely beautiful weather the last few days. The temperature has been hovering between seventy-one and seventy-eight with the smallest swing between the high and the low. There is little to no humidity and the sunny skies are the perfect shade of Carolina blue. The autumnal equinox officially arrived a couple days ago so it is officially fall.

All that good new being said I find this time of year to be the hardest for deciding what I should wear. Technically I should have put away my summer linens and spring pastels, but those are the perfect things to wear now given the temperature. There is this arcane rule about not wearing white after Labor Day, but I already make a big exception for that since summer runs into the end of September. But this fall’s entrance with perfect weather I still want to and think I am going to be wearing white.

Traditional “fall colors,” like brown, rust and gold are horrible on me. I don’t have a wardrobe of light clothes in dark colors. I have a wardrobe of colorful clothes, most considered more summery.

Until the weather actually turns reliably cold I am going to keep wearing my summer clothes. We should do away with the stuffy and ridiculous rules about what is appropriate for which season and wear what we want based on what makes us feel comfortable. Perhaps the pandemic has already done that. Maybe I should just buy a capsule wardrobe of all blue and white and wear it year round. If you see me out in white pants and a linen shirt in October don’t bother to remind me it’s fall, even if it’s 72 degrees. I’m not paying any attention to the calendar, just the weather.


The Slowest Quilt Ever

This summer I decided to make a scrap quilt with all the leftover bits of fabric I have leftover from previous projects. I can’t stand to throw away a six inch by 12 inch piece of fabric, when I know that EVENTUALLY I can use it.

This summer was eventually. I designed a pattern that uses tiny slightly wonky stars so that perfection is not an issue. I calculated that I needed 180 3 1/2 inch stars, but when I went to assemble the stars into bigger squares I discovered I needed 20 more tiny stars.

Making each tiny star is exhausting. They each use 17 little bits of fabric, which all must be cut, sewn, ironed and then squared up, meaning cut again. That’s 3400 pieces of fabric.

After a couple of months of that I finally started assembling the star squares into nine patch blocks with the stars making up five of the nine blocks and plain white material as the other four. That’s 800 more squares. More cutting, sewing and ironing, but so much faster than the tiny squares.

To get an idea of the pattern I had designed I laid out the nine patches on a design wall board. I will be adding plain white blocks between the nine patches. Only 30 more squares for that. More cutting, sewing and ironing.

I would have felt happier about my progress if I did not have to double back to making 20 more tiny star squares. Somehow having to do more of the tedious cutting and sewing makes me crazy, when I thought I was done with it.

All this and I will still have to design a border and back and then get it quilted. This project will officially be my slowest one ever. I pray I like it when it’s done.


Finally, a Wedding in Sight

It’s national Daughter’s day. Not a real holiday, just one that gets us to post pictures of our daughter’s. Now I have a great daughter, but since I am not with her I got to spend time with someone else’s wonderful daughter today.

To me, it was “spend time with your favorite bride and mother of the bride to be,” Tatum and Sara Pottenger. Tatum, like so many, has been a bride in waiting for years due to Covid. It used to be that one could get engaged and plan a wedding in six to nine months and have the day of their dreams. Then the time line got longer due to unavailability of wedding venues and the long lead times for things like dresses. So once people got engaged, if they wanted a big wedding, they had to wait a year and a half to two years.

Then Covid hit and brides who had planned their perfect weddings started postponing their celebrations. Tatum did that. She postponed everything exactly one year. So all her friends and family are very excited that her wedding is going to happen this winter.

I loved getting to talk about the plans and we are all hoping that there will be a lull in Covid activity around her date. After all the waiting she deserves a fabulous celebration.

But Covid also changed weddings for many who just went ahead with smaller, more intimate weddings. My sister got married on Zoom with just the clerk in Annapolis who performed the ceremony. It was not the wedding of her dreams, but she is happily married nonetheless.

I hope that Covid will not add more years to the timeline that people have to wait to have their weddings. Waiting a year or two is long enough. Thanks to Tatum and Sara for sharing the plans with me and letting me share some daughter time, when mine is far off.


Deceptive Advertising from L’Occitane en Provence

There is nothing I hate more than deceptive advertising. It is probably from my time of working in Marketing. I feel like lying to customers costs you so much more than you get in sales. Today I got a Facebook ad for L’Occitaine en Provence offering 20% off full priced items with a photo for a “Premium Advent Calendar” right under the banner. I have been a faithful l’occitane customer for many years.

I thought that the advent calendar looked like an interesting gift and I am a sucker for 20% off. Since I like L’occitane products I clicked the shop now. I signed into my account as I purchase from them regularly. I put the code of FRIENDS in the promo code and immediately was met with a red box, “This item is not eligible for this promo.”

Frustrated I dialed customer service and got a young man who told me that the website was right. Of course the website is right, but I wanted to register my frustration with the deceptive advertising.

The first young man passed me to a supervisor who was not interested in my point of view and just wanted to batter me with the mice type in the terms and conditions that “clearly” stated in the middle of the dense paragraph that Advent calendars were not eligible for the discount.

He did not get that I wasn’t trying to get the discount, but something bigger. I wanted them to know that I was most unhappy with the ad featuring the advent calendar as the first offering under the 20% off banner. They should have only put products that qualified for the discount in the ad.

The supervisor wasn’t listening and just kept reading the terms and conditions. I can read. I knew all that. It was not his job to create the Facebook ads, but it was his job to try and listen to my complaint. No listening. So now I complain to the world.

Companies need to be honest in their advertising. Yes I could get 20% off something else, and that is what they should show first. Poor form l’occitane. Too bad, I really liked your shampoo and hand cream that I have used for years. Time to look somewhere else.


Strategy

Thanks to my newest Mah Jongg class agent, Marty Peterson, I had another Mah Jongg class today in Raleigh. This one was a strategy class and was generously held at the lovely home of Amy Jo.

Sorry I missed someone when I took the photo

The class was made up of all friends who already play Mah Jongg together, although they have not been playing too long. That made teaching them very satisfying as they were eager to learn. A nice surprise for me was that two members of the class had been in my beginner class at the beach this summer, so I already knew they were more than competent players.

Devoting your whole day to learning how to better your Mah Jongg is the level of commitment that makes me happy and these women were excellent and attentive students.

After a full morning of lots of information we stopped for lunch. Everyone had brought a a “lunchy appetizer.” One women said she googled what a lunchy appetizer might be and only got chicken fingers as an answer. Amazingly, no one brought chicken fingers, but there was a huge spread of all kind of yummy finger foods. The winner was Jayne, who brought the cutest Charcuterie in a mason jar. It really could have been a meal all on its own.

After lunch it was back to work, learning and eventually time to play a game or two. For me it was a chance to spread the love of Mah Jongg to a group of new friends. I hope they remember all the tips and tricks I taught them and feel like they can take their game to the next level.


Detailing Day

The more and more I hear about supply chains issues, the better I want to take care of the things I have. Lord knows how long it would take to replace something. My friend Kate bought a new sofa. The original estimate to get it was 20-36 months. Thankfully that has been reduced, but really 2 years? I could build a sofa faster than that, and that was after I grew the wood and raised the sheep for the wool batting and the flax to weave into cloth and the plants for dye and the silk worms for thread.

The pandemic continuation of cleaning up and taking care of everything we own today was a big day. Shay went to a new groomer. Her last groomer, the mobile one, lied to me about canceling her appointment the day-of, saying the truck was broken and would take six weeks to fix. I found out it was a lie from a friend who also used them because they told her they were just dropping our neighborhood as part of their route. When the six weeks came around the owner called and told me the truth about dropping our neighborhood and I told him I had already heard and wished he had told me the truth six weeks ago. Lying never gets you anywhere. So I highly don’t recommend Indigo Spaw mobile pet groomers.

Shay went to a chain groomer, Woof Gang, today for her personal detailing. I had given her an at-home poor grooming this summer to make up for Indigo Spaw not showing up, the haircut was fine on her body, but not her feet. Apparently the hair grew all around her pads making her feet slip on our wood floors. I asked the vet if there was something wrong with Shay’s eyes because she stopped wanting to go the stairs on her own. Turns out it was her lack of groomed feet. Thank goodness it was not her eyes. Today we got all that cleaned up.

Continuing the detailing theme I also took my car to the Ritz to get detailed. I don’t think I have ever had it detailed before. It came back looking just as good as Shay. I had to wait a bit for an appointment, but it was worth it. Thanks Ritz car wash. You guys rock.

So things around here are looking good. We just need to keep everything in working order because we can’t replace things, especially Shay.


Cheating on Shay

Tonight I went to my friend Kate’s new house to play Mah Jongg with her, Nancy and Jeanne. They all just finished lessons and wanted to practice what they have learned. Such great students who have fully embraced the game and are getting addicted.

Since we were at Kate’s house I got to spend some quality time with her two labs, Lucy and Salty. They are big and friendly so by the time I left I was full of “other dog smells.”

Shay was so excited to see me when I got home. She is not used to me being out of the house at night. She jumped up on her hind legs and did her happy wiggle, waving her paws in the air at me. Then when I got closer she got a whiff of me and my “other dogs’ smells.”

Shay promptly dropped down to all fours and gave me a good sniffing over. “Who were you with? Why were you with other dogs and not with me?” The sniffs were down right accusatory.

I was cheating on Shay. I didn’t go to see other dogs, they just happened to be there. Sadly Mah Jongg has no smell, so I couldn’t prove that is what I was doing instead of playing with dogs.

Her unhappiness with me didn’t last long. As soon as I changed my clothes washed was better and promptly snuggled up to me and fell asleep. So sorry Shay. I promise I wasn’t cheating.


Mah Jongg Classes All Day

Some Mah Jongg Students take to the game bigger than others. This summer I had over a hundred different students at the beach. They were an enthusiastic and delightful crowd. One, Marty, really took to the game and asked if I would come and teach in Raleigh where she lives year round. No brainer for me,

When people ask me if I will come and teach in their town they don’t always follow up. Not Marty. She contacted me to ask me to teach at the Carolina Country Club. First it was two beginners classes, then a strategy class. Those classes filled and she said their was desire for an evening class. That filled and then a second class had to be added, all in two weeks.

In record time Marty had filled five classes for me, secured spaces to hold them and ensured that all the students bought their Mah Jongg Cards in advance. Between Marty and Reba (my agent at the beach) I have had a very busy few months.

Today was day 1 for the morning and afternoon beginner classes. I forgot to get pictures of the lovely women who came to learn. I took this photo by mistake during the break in the afternoon class.

Mah Jongg is so much easier than bridge. It can be learned in three three hour lessons. Then after playing a while you can take the strategy class to step your game up. Learning to play Mah Jongg by sitting next to people who are playing is no way to learn quickly.

I had some very enthusiastic learners today. Six of whom all bought mah Jongg sets before they left class. Spreading the Mah Jongg love makes my day. Thanks to Marty for organizing these classes.


Restaurant Changes

The last couple of restaurants I have gone to have done away with menus. They also have done away with humans I get to interact with when ordering. Instead, I have had to scan a QR code attached to my table that then brings up an online menu. I scroll through the whole thing and order everything myself, put in my credit card and then am asked how much I want to tip and I pay before I have even been given a napkin.

At one place today I had to get up and go to a central station to get my own napkins and water and I had to clean my own table. Now I have no issue with taking care of myself. I have done plenty of food service work in my life. What I do have a problem with being asked to tip before I have gotten anything at all.

I love tipping people an extraordinary amount who provide great service. I believe in rewarding excellent behavior. What I don’t like is being asked to tip on hardly any service at all. When I do my own ordering, my own table cleaning, both before and after a meal and getting my own drink I begin to wonder why the person who comes and drops a bag on my table deserves 20% or even 15%.

I don’t mind online menus as they save paper and are cleaner because lots of different people are not handling them. I also think that not printing menus give restaurants the opportunity to change the menu more often. My issue with online ordering is I have no chance to ask questions. Like, “Which is better, the chicken or the fish?” Or “What do you recommend?” This is all part of the service.

What if I order something online and the bag with my food gets dropped in front of me and I never see a server again.? What happens if I don’t like something or the order is wrong. At the place I went today I could not tell you what our server looked like because they dropped the bag from behind me and I never saw him or her again. For this I tipped 15%.

Also ordering with a group is slow and difficult on the app. If everyone does their own phone scan and orders their own items they don’t necessarily all come at the same time. It also makes paying an individual thing. What if I want to treat someone? It just takes a lot longer to place the order.

Covid has caused all kinds of changes in food service. I want restaurants to stay in business and hopefully in the future we can have an actual conversation with a person working in a restaurant. What I think needs to happen if I am going to do all the work as the patron is tipping needs to go away. The restaurant can raise their prices to pay their workers a living wage. Something I wish had happened long ago. People should not have to depend on tips to make enough money to live. Tipping should be for exceptional service in place where service actually exists. Tipping should also happen after a customer has been delighted, not at ordering.

As someone with food service experience I will continue to tip upon ordering if that is the way the system is set up. I know what can happen to someone’s food if there is a no tip order. I am not interested in pissing people off. I just don’t want to tip someone else if I do all the work.


Same Dinner Thirty Years Later

The old adage, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” was not true in my case. Yes, cooking is my best skill, but Russ asked me to marry him on the way into the Acme supermarket to buy veggies to cook him dinner for the very first time. Yes, it was a surprise to me. No, he had not planned on asking me at the Acme, but he said he couldn’t wait.

After returning home engaged, without a ring, I did cook him a yummy veggie pasta. He said he hit the jackpot since he had not eaten my cooking before hand. See, he grew up with some very average American food, so life with me was a totally new adventure.

This morning, with the garden full of the same vegetables I made that first dinner from, Russ asked if I could remake that first meal.

It was even better tonight than it was thirty years ago because I grew it myself and it was much fresher than anything we could have gotten at Acme.

So here’s to thirty years and a month of a half from the day Russ asked me to marry him. Thank goodness he liked that meal and didn’t change his mind about marrying me. (You know the dinner was the lock.)


Anger at the Unvaccinated is Boiling Up

In the spring when Vaccines were made available to most adults many of us did not have any problem with the vaccine hesitant because it meant that there was availability for us to get our shot faster. There were days when three million people got vaccinated. Then once all the people with brains had gotten theirs the lines slowed down and at some pints there were under 400,000 people a day getting a vaccine.

The news told us to be patient with the skeptics and give them time to come around. Well as far as I am concerned TIMES UP. The vaccine has been fully approved. It is not experimental and nothing in the history of medicine has more data given how many people around the world have been vaccinated.

Speaking of data we also know that if you don’t get the vaccine you are 11 times more likely to die from Covid, but you will not die from the vaccine. So given all the data it is time to stop being nice and put the hammer down.

If you don’t get the vaccine your health insurance company should immediately quadruple your premiums. Hospitals should build tent wards for unvaccinated Covid patients and real hospital buildings are for everyone else who is vaccinated and needs care. So if you have a heart attack and are vaccinated you can get care, or you are in a car accident. Health care workers should be prioritized to care for vaccinated patients.

Unvaccinated people should not be allowed inside any buildings where large groups might gather. It’s their choice not to vaccinate, but why should the rest of us be exposed to them.

If people don’t get vaccinated for religious reasons then their religious organization should pay for their health care if they get sick, or even better do the caring for them and make their own Covid hospitals.

Being nice to people did not get them to come around. It just gave the virus more hosts to continue to spread and get stronger. We are losing over 2,000 Americans a day (really a lot more, because Florida is not reporting their deaths), and most of those people are unvaccinated. Too stupid to save themselves. I have little sympathy for their stupidity.


Spreading the Joy

Today was day two of my needlepoint Mah Jongg class. Jeanne and Lisa brought the most fabulous “snacks” which turned out to be a huge meal for dinner. We had to have a little class before I let everyone take a break for dinner.

The group actually played their first real game and just when Kate thought she needed to be refreshed before she could go on she won her first Mah Jongg game. There is nothing more thrilling than losing your Mah Jongg virginity.

After a lovely dinner we went back to playing. This is a competitive group who all want to win and everyone did a superior job to night. Even people who did not Mah Jongg were so close.

Nancy made Mah Jongg and I have never seen her so excited in her life. It was a true celebration, especially since she has been wanting to learn for years. She announced that there will be a lot more Mah Jongg Needlepoint at the store after this!

Kate knocked it out of the park winning the third game in a heart braking steel from Lisa because Lisa had been on call for one last tile for two whole walls and Kate had her tile.

I predict everyone will get their first Mah Jongg at their next lesson since they all are progressing at record speed. That pattern recognition skill from needlepoint definitely translates to Mah Jongg.


From the Garden to the Platter

I am really going to miss the summer growing season. So quickly I became accustomed to cooking from the garden. Planning my dishes based on what was ripe. I definitely made some new combinations of foods because of what I had available.

Tonight we had a young couple over for dinner. As I am busier this week than I have been in months I had to make things that were quick. Since both Russ and I had to be on the same Zoom call for the hour before our guests arrived I needed to make everything in advance.

I settled on making a room temperature meal to simplify life. I did some cheese, hummus and veggies as nibbles with drinks. Then I served this platter for dinner. It was roasted vegetables of eggplant, zucchini, red peppers and marinated artichoke hearts. I garnished it with fresh basil from the garden and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Some pan seared salmon, not from the garden. Then a tabbouli of bulgar wheat full of fresh parsley, mint, tomato and cucumber all from the garden. It was fresh and easy.

I am dreading winter and having to eat store bought veggies. I have not planted fall vegetables yet as my summer ones are still taking up space. As long as they are producing I am going to keep them. My tomato yield picked up a little this week. It is going to be cruel to lose fresh tomatoes.


Back to School

Today was like a day from 2019. It started with Garden Club actually meeting for the first time in person in eighteen months. We had a small turnout of faithful mask wearing members outdoors at Pokey’s pavilion, which is the most perfect tented area out back of her house.

It was kind of like the first day of back to school when you have a class made up of all your friends with no smelly boys. It was nice to get dressed and talk about things other than Covid, even if what we talked about was garden club budget. I am very thankful that Missy McLeod continues to be our treasurer.

Following up my back to school theme today I held the first class of my needlepointers learning to play Mah Jongg. Needlepoint Nancy, Jeanne, Kate and Lisa all came for the first of their three classes. Nancy and Jeanne have been waiting through more than the whole Pandemic to learn. They were all excellent students and Kate only got distracted two or three times.

I had warned them that they will not know how to play Mah Jongg after the first class and they didn’t believe me until the last fifteen minutes when I threw some hard concepts at them. It’s Ok. Thursday they come for the second class and then they will get to actually play.

Oh, today felt like the old days, even though I wore a mask at garden club.


Canada Rules

I hope you have Apple TV, because if you do please watch “Come From Away.” It is the musical based on the true story of the people of Gander, Newfoundland Canada who took in over 7,000 people on 38 flights on 9/11. I watched the film of the musical on 9/11 and it made the heaviness of that day lift off me.

Thirty years ago I was lucky enough to get to work with all the Canadian Provincial telephone companies for two years. Although the headquarters for the work was in Ottawa, my specific role meant that I got to visit every province at least four or five times. Some places I went to more often. It was never a hardship to have to go to Vancouver, or Toronto. Those cities are still some of my favorite places, but there is nothing like Moose Jaw.

I got to know lots of really wonderful Canadians. Some I am still in touch with today. One of my favorites, Stuart Wright from Bell Canada, even invited me to have dinner at his home and meet his family. Since then he and his wife Saundra have come to our house on their way to play golf down south. One of my clients in Calgary made sure to schedule my work with her during the stampede so she and her husband could take me to see what life there was really like.

I went to St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland a couple of times, but never got to Gander. They gave me a bottle of Screech, a local favorite, and I never had the heart to tell them I had given up drinking long before. I think they might not have trusted me if I told them that. But the people In St. John’s were a fun group.

Watching Come From Away I felt like I had met all those people before all over Canada. It made me miss going there. I feel very lucky that I had those years there. I pray that if the tables were turned and we had to welcome a large group of strangers we could be half as hospitable as the people of Gander.

Watch the musical. It is a treat, with great music, but mostly a story about kindness that we all could be reminded of right now.


Never Done

When we were in Maine I made a spur of the moment purchase of a new rug for the living room when Russ was not with me. It was a little out of character, but I was so drawn to this rug that I just had to have it.

When I got back to our friend’s house where Russ was hanging out, instead of shopping, I told him about the new rug. “Huh, I didn’t know we needed a new rug.”

Need is the key word here. We did not need a new rug. In fact I now have my old needlepoint rug put aside and am not exactly sure what I am going to do with it. It is in perfect condition, but I have had it for twenty three years.

I am of the mind that you need to constantly be redoing rooms in your house. It does not mean you have to do everything all at once, but recovering, repainting something every year. A few years back I got new window treatments for the living room and I thought I would redo the furniture soon after that, but somehow got side tracked. I am so glad I did, because now I am going to work around this rug. I chose the rug because it went with my new window treatments.

It is so easy to become complacent with things they way they are, but things get tired, faded, worn or out of date. Freshening up your surroundings is like instant happiness. I know people who move houses because they are tired of looking at their old house. They could just reupholster the sofa.

I have a list of things I want to do at my house. Like I want to change my entry hall, but have not figured out exactly what color I want it to be. I guess now I’ll wait until I pick out new fabric for the living room and then decide. You know the old saying, “If you pull one thread…”

In my case it was a new rug.


200 Times Worse than 9/11

I’ve lived exactly one third of my life post 9/11. Before that date bad things that happened in our country were just bad, but we got over them. I grew up watching the TV news in the era of Vietnam. Every night Walter Cronkite would open the news with the number of dead Americans in Vietnam that day. To my small person’s perspective I thought the news was the report of everybody that died in all of America, but the number was small, a dozen or so.

We had the assignation of Martin Luther King and the Kennedy’s. Then their was the Challenger explosion. I felt like those were the worst tragedies I would ever see. 9/11 changed all of that. We came together as a country in our collective grief and we supported each other, because we had a common enemy.

Covid has been a tragedy of more than 200 times the magnitude in the sense of deaths, but somehow Covid has divided this county unlike any terrorist. I wish that people would learn to come together like we did after 9/11.

The idea of getting a vaccine and wearing a mask to protect your neighbor would have been a no brainer right after 9/11 if that would protect the county. Where is that American spirit today?

After 9/11 I thought that would be the biggest national tragedy I would witness is my life, but Covid has overtaken that spot. We didn’t know 9/11 was going to happen, but we did work to ensure that terrorists could not use planes as bombs again. We can slow Covid and give our health care workers a break if we all take the scientifically proven measures of vaccines and mask wearing . It is patriotic to do what is right for the collective good of America. Children under 12 can’t be vaccinated yet. When in modern American history have we not tried to protect children? Not getting a vaccine and wearing a mask puts children at risk. I know no one thinks of themselves as child killers.

Let’s feel that good feeling of coming together for each other. Let’s do what Dolly Parton wants us to do. Get the vaccine and wear a mask. There is nothing more American than that. I don’t want Covid to be 400 times worse than 9/11.


The Slowing Harvest

I knew that when I went away in August I would be missing the bulk of my harvest. Thankful for my friends who got all the butternut squash and cucumbers and beans, but sad that it was the end of those.

I have lots of green tomatoes, which are reluctantly ripening and an abundance of banana peppers, but the variety that was my garden is dwindling. Everyday I cut a couple of okra that keep holding on, but no cucumbers or squash. The eggplant are so slow growing it is almost like they are fake, like baby plastic eggplant attached to the plant.

It is time to pull things out. My garden does not get much fall sun. I want to plant some kale, arugula and herbs like cilantro and dill that like the cooler weather. My enthusiasm for daily garden work is waning, even though there is still lots of work to be done.

My compost is so depleted and the fig tree that so promisingly had tons of figs waiting to ripen got wiped out by deer in one night, right before I was about to harvest.

Overall I am thrilled with the output this year, with the exception of summer squash and zucchini that were ravaged by boring worms. Next year I will have to try every organic method to save the plants, starting with putting them in different beds.

What I am going to miss most is not having to buy vegetables. But having a garden gives me an even bigger appreciation for all that farmers do.


Dogs Love The Pandemic

Sometimes I wonder if dogs are secretly keeping Covid going so they could keep their humans home with them. I don’t know how they might be doing it, but it seems plausible.

Today Russ left extra early to fly to Washington for the day. Shay stayed snuggled in bed late into the morning. When she finally woke up she went on a hunt to find Russ. Her first stop was in his office, where Shay serves as his work supervisor. As he was not there this got her upset so she went to the kitchen to see if he was just getting his coffee, no Russ.

I watched as she visited every room in the house, even crying at a closed door to Carter’s room until I opened it to show her he was not there. How could he have snuck out of the house without her knowledge, and where was he?

I offered myself up as a candidate to be supervised. I had a long morning zoom, but Shay chose to stand and lookout the front door, pining for Russ. She had no interest in helping me sort socks, her normally favorite task.

I invited Shay to come to the sweat shop while I worked. Turned down cold. She barley asked for meals as her despondency increased. Russ is not due home until ten tonight. I am certain that she will have worked herself into a full on anxiety attack by then. Thank goodness this is just a one day trip.


Happy Birthday Margsey

Tomorrow is my sister Margaret’s birthday. For the longest time it was just me and Margaret. We wore sister dresses and tortured each other. We were fairly old, 8 1/2 and 5, when we got our surprise third sister Janet. Despite Janet’s arrival Margaret was always my “little sister.” I am sure it was not a position she prized.

Margaret’s birthday is just a week after Janet’s so she lost having a whole birthday month to herself. Top it off, her birthday was right after the first day of school which was not the most celebrated thing in a class of new kids you hardly know.

Margaret has always been more stylish than any of us. So I can imagine it was quite a horror to her that she had to wear my hand-me-downs. It was made even worse by having to wear what looked like the same dress for three or four years because she would first have hers and then my matching dress.

The worst thing about being the “little” sister is when we got two of anything she automatically got the smaller one – Like easter baskets. The Easter bunny would leave me a big basket and Margaret a little one. They might have had the same amount of candy, but I don’t think so. Especially since I always got up earlier and rearranged the candy giving her all the stuff I didn’t like, which she also did not like.

Why give us two different sized baskets? She could tell mine was bigger. Why not give us two that were the same size, but different colors. When Janet came around I think all the baskets were equal, but the damage of the small basket years was done.

I want to say I’m sorry to Margaret for anything I ever did that made her feel like the “little” sister. This is Margaret’s first Birthday as a married lady. I hope that Pete is treating her like a Queen.

I can’t fix the childhood issues, but at least I can get as many people as possible to wish Margaret a Happy Birthday.


Greg Abbott is Full of It

Today as Texas Governor, Greg Abbott was signing a terrible restrictive voting rights bill he was questioned about last weeks abortion bill he signed. The question was about the bill not making any provisions for rape victims who become pregnant. Abbott’s response was, “Let’s be clear, rape is a crime, and Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting them off the streets.”

Really? First, Texas is the 15th highest state for rapes in the country per capitia. There are over 55.2 rapes per 100,000 per year and those are just the ones that are reported. Last year over 8,000 women in Texas reported a rape, but the statistics show that only about one in ten rapes ever gets reported.

So let’s guess there were 80,000 rapes in Texas last year. How in the world can Abbott prevent rapes from happening when the number is that big? Most women are raped by people they know. There is no way to lock someone up before they prevent a crime so how can Abbott say he is going to protect women from rapists. If he were going to do that why has t he done it already?

It’s just another ridiculous response to a terrible law. Abbott is not about protecting women, but controlling them.


Cilantro Lime Dressing

I know Cilantro is a taste that divides many, but if you are not a soap taster of it this dressing is yummy. It is easy to make and was perfect on this corn, shrimp, okra, tomato, avocado salad.

It is easy to make this in a blender or with a stick blender. No need to chop anything.

1 bunch of cilantro, stems and leaves

1/3 cup of lime juice

3 cloves of garlic

2 dried red chillies, or big pinch of red pepper flakes

2 T. Honey

2 T. Rice wine vinegar

1 T. Grated ginger

1/3 cup olive oil

Big pinch salt

Put everything in the blender and pulse until cilantro is minced.


Too Late For “Story Teller” Business Cards?

When I was kid I was often asked the common question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It is an unfair question to ask most kids because we have no idea what all the jobs out there are, let alone what new jobs are yet to be invented. But today at Church I learned of the most important job, one that actually would be my dream job.

Alex, our youth pastor, was preaching today. He told the congregation that there was something more important than anything else on earth, stories and story tellers. Being a story teller is a job. I am not exactly sure it was laid out that distinctly, but that was my take away.

Shoot, I thought. Finally at the age of sixty I hear of the job that is best suited to me in every way, and I had no idea it was a real job. Now I have to admit that I have listed “story teller” as my occupation on more than a few forms, but that just was covering up the fact that I actually was not working for pay.

As a child, if you were labeled a “story teller” it meant you were a liar. No wonder I never thought it could be my actually line of work. Of course, when I was a sales person or a marketer, telling stories was my line of work. I would tell clients stories about how what I had to sell them would improve their life, their bottom line and even make then appear more beautiful. It had to be a really good story to make someone believe that a Mail opening machine would affect their appearance, but it worked.

For our entire marriage Russ has numbered my stories based on how often they get told. My top most repeated story is number one and so on. Of course the numbers on the stories change depending on my audience and the relevance of the material. How many of my friends have asked me to tell “Saskatoon” over and over again.

Sadly, I am still not sure how I can earn a living as a story teller. Yes, writers are story tellers, but writing is not my best skill. I do much better with a captive live audience and that is something that does not seem to be coming back anytime soon. So perhaps I missed my chance to have a really important job. I still will keep telling stories, just try and stop me. I just don’t think I will get business cards that say “story teller” on them.


Remind Me, I Need Low Profile

When it comes to beds, I am particular and Russ is not. He says he is happy to sleep on a piece of plywood and I am closer to the princess and the pea, minus the crown. With all the staying home over the last two year, my mattress became more and more important to me. I have hated our last bed for a long time, but had not told Russ until recently.

When we went to a hotel in June for a memorial service I had a great nights sleep and decided now was the time to break down and buy a new bed.

It took me a couple of months to actually go to the mattress store, but after all my research I was ready for some side-by-side tests. I decided to go with a Sterns and Foster, the first time I have bought this brand. The only decision my salesman gave me after I picked the mattress was box springs or adjustable base?

Since the adjustable would mean that Russ and I would have to agree on degree settings I went with box springs. Today our bed was delivered right on time. The young men brought in the two box springs and then the mattress. The combination, when placed on our frame, are so high that I practically need a step stool.

I called the salesman and he said he made a mistake by not asking if we wanted a low profile box spring. Nice of him to admit his mistake. The new, thinner box springs will be here Tuesday. Until then I will just have to jump.

As for Russ, who never went for a test visit at the mattress store, he promptly lay down on the new bed and fell asleep for a quick nap. I think it is way better than a piece of plywood.


What Can I Do About Texas?

I don’t live in Texas, but I have a few friends who do. I love my friends, but I don’t love their government. The list of things I am upset about Texas about keeps growing. Their anti-choice law, allowing guns everywhere, not allowing mask mandates, it all makes me crazy. But it is not my state. As just one person it is hard to make an impression on a place as big as Texas that I am never going to support anything they do.

Sure, my never traveling to Texas will not make any difference. My choosing products that are not made in Texas, will not change things. But what if everyone who thinks like me boycotts all things Texan? Texas is the size of most big European countries. They can stand on their own, but Texas is not content to just sell to themselves.

When my own state of North Carolina enacted the stupidest bathroom law ever seen in this country, others boycotted NC. When we lost the NCAA basketball tournament that seemed to really make an impact on NC and we got rid of that ridiculous law.

I can’t vote out people in Texas who think they should force women to have unplanned babies, but I can let Texas know that I don’t support them. There are laws of unintended consequences. I can only imagine how clogged up Texan courts are going to be with child support cases for all those babies needing the fathers’ to step up and pay for the next eighteen years.

The majority of Americans believe that women and their doctors should make decisions about pregnancies. Just because there is a heart beat at five weeks gestation does not mean that a fetus will be a viable human, but in Texas that is not considered. Well Texas, I don’t consider you for anything.


Indisputably MY Best Family Member’s Birthday

Quiz anyone about my family and everyone in and out of it agrees that my sister Janet is the most outstanding family member. None of the rest of even come close so there is no jealousy, just admiration. This fact has been true from the moment she came into the world.

Janet was the most beautiful baby. And even a more stunning toddler, but to make us all not fell inadequate she shunned bathing and brushing of her hair. In spite of the lack of grooming she still outshone us all.

Her physical beauty was minor in relation to her athletic ability. She could out throw, hit, swim, ski and score everybody.

Loyalty has always been her hallmark. The only people who do not like her were those who were intimidated by her and insecure themselves, and they are few and far between. She is even nice to those people.

Janet is the hardest worker I know, even as a child. If there was grass to be cut, or logs to be chopped, she was the only eight year old doing that. That trait has lasted her whole life. Today when she goes to sell a department store products she does not take no for an answer, always finding a way to make things work for everybody.

Considering her superiority I feel like September 2 should be a national holiday. Since I can’t make that happen the least I can do is let people know that this is her day. My most wonderful sister Janet’s birthday.


Random Knowledge

Over a lifetime I have accumulated a lot of random knowledge. I wish my memory for french verb conjugation was as good as my memory for cleaning tips. School life would have been much easier. Sadly I have never taken an AP stain removal test, which I am certain I would have gotten a five on.

A couple of days ago, after our long road trip to Maine and back, Russ looked at my car and said I needed to have my headlight professionally cleaned as they were slightly foggy with some crazing. I was planning on having my car detailed anyway, but since I could not get an appointment until the end of September I went ahead and cleaned the headlights myself.

Russ had already hand washed the car and was unhappy with the headlights. I told him that the answer was tooth paste. I can’t tell you where or when I learned this trick, but it works great.

I bought the cheapest tube of white tooth paste I could find. Turns out Pepsodent is only .99¢, while the most expensive Crest is over $7. I ran a big bead of tooth paste on the plastic lens of my headlight. Then, using an old tooth brush, I rubbed the paste all over the lens in circular motions.

After the brushing I rinsed the headlight with the hose. The lights were greatly improved. No fogginess and I could not see any crazing.

I looked online after I had already used the toothpaste and found many products for a lot more money than .99¢ to do the same job. I don’t know where I learn these things, but it is great when the cheep home remedy works so well. Thank goodness for a random knowledge brain.


Talk Radio Talkers Dying Off

In the last month at least three conservative talk radio hosts have died of Covid, Phil Valentine, Dick Farrel and Marc Bernie. One of Tennessee and two of Florida. All three of them apparently rallied against the Covid Vaccine and Mask Mandates and paid the ultimate price for their ignorance.

Being a talk radio personality is a job that does not necessarily have any requirements for expertise or education. You have to be able to talk, and get people to follow you. In the conservative talk realm there was little to no requirements for honesty or brains.

Thanks to politicians who thought they knew better than public health experts we have had plenty of people not following experts and not getting vaccines or wearing masks. Once the politicians started that line of thinking the conservative talking heads picked up that line and ran with it.

Well these idiots ran right to the grave. None of the deceased got vaccinated, because they knew better than public health officials who actually have degrees and expertise, unlike talk radio people.

I hope that some of the listeners to these former talkers learn from their deaths and get a vaccine, wear masks, get their children vaccinated and make them wear masks at school. I really hope people will stop listening to non-experts who just happen to have a radio show. Of course they all could die off before that could happen.


I Knew It Would Come In Handy

I’m not exactly a hoarder. I have “collections,” but they are not things that take over my house. I do tend to save things from trips that remind me of a certain place, person or time. Every once in a while I go through a big purge and get rid of things that I have forgotten their meaning.

What I keep is not always of value, but sometimes I keeps unusual things I think might come in handy one day. Today’s found object is the perfect example of that.

Twenty-five or six years ago I went to South Africa to make some commercials. I actually went twice, once on the advance scouting trip and back again for the ten day shout. We stayed at the Palace Hotel in Sun City and we were well treated there. My iced tea always came with a long plastic tusk like tooth pick with my lemon attached to it. It wasn’t anything valuable or special, but it reminded me of that trip. I brought one home and stuck it in the pencil and pen bucket on my bedside table.

Now I have cleaned out that bucket about every five years, testing the pens to see if they still work. Somehow the tusk has remained.

Recently I have made a special drink of Gosslings Diet Ginger ale, lime juice and a cherry and some juice from the cherry jar. It’s a yummy, not to bad for you drink, but the only problem is I make it in too big a glass and the cherry falls to the bottom. To me and my Shirley Temple loving ways, the cherry is the best part of the drink, but I can’t get it out without getting my hand wet with sticky liquid.

I was enjoying this drink in bed last night and suddenly I looked over at my pencil bucket and saw the answer to my problem, the tusk. The long curved pointed skewer was able to grasp the cherry without my hand having to go too deeply in the glass.

I hate to pat myself on the back for saving the tiny tusk all these years, but boy I was glad I did last night. I think I should look around at other “saved” objects and see how I could use them.